Prayer in the Catechism of the Catholic Church #3

December 10, 1995
Brother John Raymond

	We have been looking at the Catechism of the Catholic Church on
 prayer. Having seen prayer as a gift and covenant, we now want to
 look at it as communion. As we have mentioned before, the bottom
 line of prayer is one of relationship. It is living in communion
 with God our Father, His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ and with the
 Holy Spirit. Kind of a unique relationship, I mean, we get Three
 Persons in our communion with the one God.
	Now a life of prayer is nothing other than the habit of being in
 the presence of God and in communion with Him. This communion is
 possible because through Baptism we have been united with Christ.
 Jesus in His Person as Son of God reconciles the Human nature with
 the Divine nature, which sin had driven apart. His humanity restores
 our humanity. He is the bridge between God and Man, as St. Catherine
 of Siena was told by God the Father. He is the link back to
 communion with the Trinity. Through Him we receive the Holy Spirit,
 the fount of our participation in the life of God. Thus, our prayer
 can be called Christian "insofar as it is communion with Christ and
 extends throughout the Church, which is His Body." (#2565)
	In this time of ecumenical dialogue some have become confused
 about this last point. So we have Christians looking to Hinduism,
 Buddhism, etc. as being able to teach us how to pray. I remember
 attending a workshop given by a Catholic woman about a new form of
 prayer. She told everybody to close their eyes, breath deeply, relax
 their body, clear their minds (no images, just blank__something like
 my mind when I wake up in the morning) and repeat some word over and
 over again (this particular word I had never heard before.) I asked
 her what it meant. She said she didn't know but that wasn't
 important. The idea is to just repeat it and relax. I can guarantee
 you that this woman was not teaching Christian prayer__although she
 may have thought she was.
	The story is told that Thomas Merton, before becoming a Trappist
 monk, asked a Hindu guru some question regarding spiritual wisdom.
 The guru's answer was, "read St. John of the Cross." Now St. John of
 the Cross is a Doctor of the Church. What is all this telling us?
 Well, the Second Vatican Council told us that non-Christian
 religions are joined to the Catholic Church in varyious ways. (Lumen
 Gentium #15) These religions have a part or "ray" of the truth while
 the Catholic Church contains the fulness of the truth and the means
 to salvation. All baptized Christians are somehow related to the
 Church. Our separated brethren are in communion with the Catholic
 Church in varying degrees and draw their holiness and life from the
 Catholic Church. Thus, if we look around we will find all we need in
 the Catholic Church. So many people go off looking for "gurus" of
 prayer when in fact the Church has the fulness of the truth to tell
 us about prayer in Her long tradition and in Her saints.
	These other religions may have techniques for relaxation and
 relaxing is good__but they are not prayer. In response to a question
 about Oriental Zen and Transcendental meditation Our Lady of
 Medjugorje answered, "Why do you call them 'meditations,' when it
 deals with human works? The true meditation is a meeting with Jesus.
 When you discover joy, interior peace, you must know there is only
 one God, and only one Mediator, Jesus Christ."
	As we began, prayer is a living relationship and communion with
 the Persons of the Trinity. Only with Them will we as Christians
 find fulfillment in prayer and a true experience of prayer.